Category Archive 'Decline and Fall'
20 May 2016

The Losing Fight With Entropy

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At Ricochet, the King Prawn is simultaneously pessimistic and consolatory.

Even by the time of the formal creation of the governmental structure employed in this nation we had already started on a long downward slope, pulled inevitably through decline and toward destruction by the great weight of human nature. This trend should come as no surprise to conservatives because we have studied history. We know that from the pinnacle of our founding everything else would be downhill. At the close of the Constitutional Convention Benjamin Franklin said:

    In these Sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its Faults, if they are such; because I think a General Government necessary for us, and there is no Form of Government but what may be a Blessing to the People if well administered; and I believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a Course of Years, and can only end in Despotism as other Forms have done before it, when the People shall become so corrupted as to need Despotic Government, being incapable of any other.

The cry for socialism and despotism has been long coming, but not unforeseen. The problem for Franklin wasn’t that we had created an inadequate government but rather we would become an inadequate people. He was right. He looked to the past and saw what had gone before, then looking to the future he foretold what would be the fate of this nation.

While arguing in favor of our new form of government even its most ardent supporters feared the havoc which would be wreaked by those entrusted with power. As James Madison stated it in Federalist 51:

    But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. [emphasis mine]

We could imagine the founders would be shocked if they saw the state of our nation and our people today, but I doubt they would find it so surprising that we proved them wholly correct. Government is a reflection of human nature, and the government we have (and are about to get) reflects perfectly the character of those who inhabit this nation and make up a majority of the votes cast. We elected a despot with his pen and his phone because we’ve become incapable of electing any other kind of leader. In a few short months we’ll elect another, only this time our choices are limited to an even more corrupt and criminal politician or a conman who promises to be an even more effective despot than the last. Neither candidate sees as the problem the concentration of power in one branch or one person. They believe the only flaw is the concentration of power in the wrong person.

I said in the beginning that conservatism acts as merely an anchor. Some may see the nation foundering on the rocks of human nature and believe that conservatism has failed. It has not. In any other time or place the crash would have come sooner, the destruction more violently, the catastrophe more severe. We’ve done the job well, and we will continue to do what we can until the whole thing comes apart, or until the chain breaks and we lie useless on the bottom as the nation sails unhindered across the seas of time to its inevitable end.

Read the whole thing.

14 Apr 2016

Diagnosing Decadence

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Eric Fischl, The Old Man’s Boat and the Old Man’s Dog, 1982. –Our time’s version of The Raft of the Medusa.

Dan Greenfield contrasts the barbarous, vigorous, and decadent stages of civilization in another of his superb must-read essays.

The decadent civilization has a million laws which it applies selectively. Its universal laws, inherited from a vigorous civilization, are buried between equivocation. Decadents don’t believe in objective truths and so they cannot have universal laws. Instead they mire them in so many legalisms as to be meaningless. The laws must be interpreted by a specialized caste. Everyone is always in violation of some obscure law. Life depends on a lawless dispensation from the law. Justice is impossible. Corruption is mandatory. The only way for the decadent civilization to function is to bypass its own safeguards through corruption, black markets and lobbying. This is true in all things.

The crucial task of the law is interpretation that keeps everyone from constantly being punished. This task is accomplished by lawyers, lobbyists and the politicians who are constantly adding more laws to fix the interpretations in the old laws creating a complex mass of contradictory information.

This holds true in every other area of decadent life.

Read the whole thing.

Right now, a lot of people are eager to embrace the barbarian (Donald Trump) precisely because at an instinctive level they perceive him, with all his faults, representing an alternative to the decadence of our current elite culture, and they are ready to jump over the cliff to escape the latter.

19 Mar 2016

2016 Election Not Important

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NewZealanderLondonRuins
Gustave Doré, A Traveller from New Zealand Contemplating the Ruins of London.

“[W]hen some traveller from New Zealand shall, in the midst of a vast solitude, take his stand on a broken arch of London Bridge to sketch the ruins of St. Paul’s” — Thomas Babbington Macauley.

Selwyn Duke explains that the presumably-disastrous next presidential election doesn’t really matter all that much. America (and the rest of the West) is doomed anyway.

Many people lament that “Obama has destroyed America these last eight years” or, alluding to same, will say “I don’t recognize my country anymore.” This is much like viewing a woman who marries a greasy-haired, dope-smoking, heavily tattooed and pierced, unemployable reprobate and saying that her matrimonial decision destroyed her, when the real problem was that she was the kind of person who could make such a choice in the first place. Do you really think Obama isn’t a symptom at least as much as a cause? Do you think the 2008 A.D. America that elected him would have been recognizable to 1950 Americans?

And even if the next president is an anomalous good result, he won’t even be a pause that refreshes, but will at best slow down the runaway train racing toward the precipice. This is because our main problems aren’t illegal migration, trade deals or health care, as significant as those things are. Our problems are more fundamental.

Do you really want to save America? Okay, then completely transform the media, academia and entertainment so they’re not brainwashing citizens 24/7 with anti-American, anti-Christian, multiculturalist, socialist, feminist and a multitude of other lies. End legal immigration, which, via the importation of massive numbers of Third Worlders, is changing our country into a socialistic non-Western culture. Even more significantly, convince the 70-plus percent of Americans who are moral relativists to believe in Truth; these are people who, as the Barna Group research company put it, believe that what we call “truth is always relative to the person and their situation” and whose most common basis for moral decision-making is “doing whatever feels right….”

Read the whole thing.

02 Mar 2016

“Let It Burn!”

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LetItBurn

Christopher Taylor has pessimistic things to say about America’s politics. He thinks a nation with a culture like ours can only have the kind of national leadership we have.

Who wins what office makes no difference. Until the nation undergoes a tremendous shift at the basic, cultural level, elections will only pour more of the same on this country and every new election makes matters worse. And that cultural shift takes time, not elections.

We’re at a point in this nation where the Supreme Court has been stuffed with a near-majority of members for whom the constitution is simply a set of words they can use to lever in anything the latest progressive positions hold. When a court has even a few judges who are utterly disinterested in constitution, wisdom, reason, justice, or sanity, that court ceases to have any validity whatseover. It has been corrupted to the point of being useless.
Arguments we have to get the right sort of politician in this position or that for The Judges ignores the utter destruction of the constitution and nation that has already been wrought by a supposed judicially sensible majority. After the utter abortion that was the Kelo vs New London decision, the court followed up with several horrendously decided trash cases which demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with power no matter who they are or what they claim about law.

Will a supreme court justice picked by a corrupt, horrible hag like Hillary Clinton be much worse than even a lying bozo like Donald Trump? Yes. But the bad is not a question of ruining the nation, its a question of how fast and in what direction. Its going that way anyway, its just a matter of how swiftly. …

There’s a phrase some use to describe this attitude: “let it burn.” Some misunderstand this as a call to destroy the nation. But its not. Its a call to step back and give up the fight because its going down either way. For years now I’ve been telling everyone to focus locally, on family, neighbors, local politics. Your home, your area, your town. Because the federal government is a write-off. There is no fixing it through any elections.
That’s what Let It Burn means; not “revolution!!!” but rather “its already burning and the firefighters know it won’t be saved.” Let it Burn recognizes that its already on fire. We’re past the point of preventing it. We cannot save this Republic, until we get past the hard times ahead and begin the slow, painful process of rebuilding.

I’m sorry. I don’t like it either. but that doesn’t make it any less true. And recognizing this doesn’t make me a crazy old man. Just a sad one.

    “Posterity–you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.”

    -John Quincy Adams

Sorry, John. We didn’t. We gave it a pretty good run for a while, but its over.

Hat tip to Bird Dog and Vanderleun.

01 Mar 2016

“The Age of Trump”

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TrumpCampaigning

Eliot A. Cohen, in the American Interest, points out that Donald Trump is not the solution to America’s problems, he is really the most alarming symptom of the disease.

Politicians have, since ancient Greece, lied, pandered, and whored. They have taken bribes, connived, and perjured themselves. But in recent times—in the United States, at any rate—there has never been any politician quite as openly debased and debauched as Donald Trump. Truman and Nixon could be vulgar, but they kept the cuss words for private use. Presidents have chewed out journalists, but which of them would have suggested that an elegant and intelligent woman asking a reasonable question was dripping menstrual blood? LBJ, Kennedy, and Clinton could all treat women as commodities to be used for their pleasure, but none went on the radio with the likes of Howard Stern to discuss the women they had bedded and the finer points of their anatomies. All politicians like the sound of their own names, but can anyone doubt what Trump would have christened the Hoover Dam—or the Washington Monument?

That otherwise sober people do not find Trump’s insults and insane demands outrageous (Mexico will have to pay for a wall! Japan will have to pay for protection!) says something about a larger moral and cultural collapse. His language is the language of the comments sections of once-great newspapers. …

The current problem goes beyond excruciatingly bad manners. What we increasingly lack, and have lacked for some time, is a sense of the moral underpinning of republican (small r) government. Manners and morals maintain a free state as much as laws do, as Tocqueville observed long ago, and when a certain culture of virtue dies, so too does something of what makes democracy work. Old-fashioned words like integrity, selflessness, frugality, gravitas, and modesty rarely rate a mention in modern descriptions of the good life—is it surprising that they don’t come up in politics, either? …

The rot is cultural. It is no coincidence that Trump was the star of a “reality” show. He is the beneficiary of an amoral celebrity culture devoid of all content save an omnipresent lubriciousness. He is a kind of male Kim Kardashian, and about as politically serious. In the context of culture, if not (yet) politics, he is unremarkable; the daily entertainments of today are both tawdry and self-consciously, corrosively ironic. Ours is an age when young people have become used to getting news, of a sort, from Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, when an earlier generation watched Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley. It is the difference between giggling with young, sneering hipsters and listening to serious adults. Go to YouTube and look at old episodes of Profiles in Courage, if you can find them—a wildly successful television series based on the book nominally authored by John F. Kennedy, which celebrated an individual’s, often a politician’s, courage in standing alone against a crowd, even a crowd with whose politics the audience agreed. The show of comparable popularity today is House of Cards. Bill Clinton has said that he loves it.

American culture is, in short, nastier, more nihilistic, and far less inhibited than ever before. It breeds alternating bouts of cynicism and hysteria, and now it has given us Trump.

27 Feb 2016

Women Are Destroying Civilization

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Previously cited by Vanderleun and the News Junkie.

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Waylon Jennings made a similar point:

26 Jan 2016

“The Republic is Dead… Time For the Empire.”

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7DaysinMay

Glenn Reynolds examines the entrails of the sacrifices and finds the omens alarming and disturbing.

According to a recent Associated Press poll, the public lacks confidence in government. And by “lacks confidence,” I mean “really lacks confidence.” Specifically, “More than 6 in 10 respondents expressed only slight confidence — or none at all — that the federal government can make progress on the problems facing the nation in 2016.” …

A much-hyped YouGov poll from last fall found that 29% of Americans could imagine supporting a military coup. That poll probably overstated popular support — it didn’t ask if people favored a coup right now, just whether they could imagine supporting one, including in the instance of the government violating the Constitution — but there was also this, as Newser reported: “Some 71% said military officers put the interests of the country ahead of their own interests, while just 12% thought the same about members of Congress. “

A democracy that gives rise to those sorts of sentiments is a democracy that’s in trouble. And America’s political class, which is used to operating in a world where there’s lots of room to get things wrong, needs to up its game before things get worse.

I must admit: I’m part of that 29%.

17 Aug 2015

“Mustn’t Call Him Master”

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StephenDavis
Stephen Davis, now co-“head-of-College” for Pierson College at Yale. Davis has chosen to share the title with his frau. After all, a husband being Master (or “head”) of a college and not including wifie would be unequal. (Thousands of Yale men are spinning in their graves.)

Anybody doubt that Eliot and Vargas LLosa are right? Just read this, a piece demonstrating what kind of blithering, wimpy creeps have replaced the men who used to teach at Yale and serve as college masters. John Hersey, Master of Pierson in my day, must be laughing in Hell. And just look at that miserable wretch in the above photo: No jacket, no appropriate shirt, no necktie. He’s married, of course, to a priestess, and she appears for her photograph as co-“Head of Pierson” in a t-shirt!

The Yale Alumni Mag offers a now-go-out-an-throw-up-in-the-street item to brighten alumni’s lives today.

The sign on the door says “Pierson College Master’s House,” but the person who currently holds that title would rather you call him something else. Religious studies professor Stephen Davis ’98PhD, who was named master of Pierson in 2013, recently wrote to members of the college to ask that they “refrain from calling [him] ‘Master’ Davis.” He explained that “I have found the title of the office I hold deeply problematic given the racial and gendered weight it carries. . . . I think there should be no context in our society or in our university in which an African-American student, professor, or staff member—or any person, for that matter—should be asked to call anyone ‘master.’” He suggested that students could call him “Dr. Davis” or “Professor D.” Davis’s biography on the Pierson College website now refers to him as the “head of college.

If the old Lithuanian greenhorn Pans I knew growing up in Shenandoah had heard this one, they would not have called this wanker “master” (“Pan” in Polish and Lithuanian). They’d have snorted and called him: “chłop” (“peasant”, “serf”, “slave”).

PiersonMastersDoorway
The doorway to the Master’s House in Pierson College.

17 Aug 2015

“Notes on the Death of Culture”

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Eric Fischl, The Old Man’s Boat and the Old Man’s Dog, 1982. –Our time’s version of The Raft of the Medusa.

John D. Davidson reviews Mario Vargas Llosa’s just-released
Notes on the Death of Culture, a must-read pessimistic essay discussing the West’s rate of decline since 1948 (the year of my birth) and our civilization’s gloomy prospects for the future.

In his 1948 essay, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, T.S. Eliot argued that the highest levels of culture are only attainable by relatively small groups of people, and that in order for a civilization to sustain high culture a class system of some kind is necessary. Because culture is transmitted primarily through the family and religion—not schools—and because it relies to a large extent on these particular loyalties for its perpetuation, when these institutions fail, “we must expect our culture to deteriorate.”

At the risk of over-simplifying Eliot’s argument, one of his basic contentions sounds rather old-fashioned, perhaps even bigoted by today’s standards, that “we can distinguish between higher and lower cultures; we can distinguish between advance and retrogression.” This notion flies in the face of multiculturalism, not to say the notion of equality. Yet it’s a necessary premise for his assessment of the state of contemporary culture:

    “We can assert with some confidence that our own period is one of decline; that the standards of culture are lower than they were fifty years ago; and that the evidences of this decline are visible in every department of human activity. I see no reason why the decay of culture should not proceed much further, and why we may not even anticipate a period, of some duration, of which it is possible to say that it will have no culture.”

According to Peruvian writer and Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, the culture-less period foreseen 67 years ago by Eliot is the one in which we are all now living.

09 Aug 2015

Der Untergang das Abendlandes

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Gibbon

FallofRome

02 Jul 2015

Gay Marriage Harms Everyone

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bethisguy

Matt Walsh responds to the liberaltarian contention that we should just accept Gay Marriage because it doesn’t really affect us.

The “it doesn’t affect us” mantra has become one of the more common, and absolutely the most damaging, idea circulating through the ranks of the defeatists. It’s a gross and ridiculous lie, one which accomplishes the impressive feat of being wrong in two different ways. It’s wrong when it says we should only care about things that have an impact on our lives, and it’s wrong when it says gay marriage will have no impact on our lives.

First, since when are we only supposed to care about things that will physically or financially affect us? Don’t we normally condemn a person who fails to act or think or speak simply because he, himself, individually, isn’t yet feeling the effect of it? Don’t we criticize a person who doesn’t care until he’s getting punched in the nose by the problem?

When we’re dealing with moral quandaries — questions of right and wrong, truth and lies — it is not a legitimate argument to say “it doesn’t affect me.” It’s effect on you is irrelevant to the issue. What kind of moral idiot measures the impact of a certain evil on his own life and calibrates his concern accordingly? We might all do this sometimes, but it’s a weakness. It’s shameful. It’s cowardice and self-interest. It’s not good. You shouldn’t be proud of it.

Second, as a member of society, State-imposed falsehoods do affect you. Marriage is a certain thing with a certain nature and definition. When the State mandates that the thing is something other than what it is, and has a purpose other than its actual purpose, you are now living under a tyranny of confusion. The severity of that confusion depends on the degree of the falsehood. So if the government announced tomorrow that we must all pretend penguins are elephants and cats are squirrels, I expect I wouldn’t be seriously harmed. I might be helped because I could finally get rid of my wife’s annoying cat on the grounds that I don’t want squirrels in my house.

But I would still oppose this redefinition because it’s not true, and I prefer Truth. How does it negatively affect my life that people are all confused about penguins and cats and elephants? I guess it doesn’t, except that it would make my trips to the zoo pretty disorienting, and more importantly, I want our culture to have a proper understanding of reality. Moreover, I don’t want our government to impose an improper understanding.

An improper understanding of a squirrel is one thing, though. An improper understanding of marriage, on the other hand, will destroy us. Marriage is the bedrock upon which all of human civilization rests. To expand its definition into oblivion is to weaken and destabilize it.

Hurt? Of course. You’re hurt. Everyone is hurt. This is our foundation, and we all depend on it, no matter if we’re separated from the issue by a few degrees. If your house is falling into a sinkhole, would you say it doesn’t hurt you because you happen to be standing on the top floor?

Why do you think liberals care so much about this? If it doesn’t matter, why have they dedicated years to bringing about this past Friday? Because they want gay people to love each other? Nonsense. There was never any law preventing any gay person from loving anyone or anything. The State never had any interest in encouraging, preventing, or otherwise regulating love. The State does have an interest in the foundation of civilization, which is the family. That’s why, up until recently, it recognized True Marriage.

Gay marriage is not an essential or true institution, nor does it serve any real purpose in society. There’s no practical or moral reason for the romantic lives of homosexuals to be recognized or elevated or protected in any way. Even most homosexual activist know this, despite pushing for gay marriage. Gay couples in many cases aren’t monogamous, and gay activists like Dan Savage have been very enthusiastic in extoling the virtues of open relationships and fornication.

This whole gay marriage debate is about opening up the lifelong monogamous bond of matrimony to a community that often doesn’t desire a lifelong monogamous bond. Do you understand what’s going on here? They don’t want marriage as it currently is; they want to change it into something else.

Read the whole thing.

21 Jun 2015

The Culture Today

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NightWatch

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